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Air Quality Alert: 'Limit outdoor activities and keep children indoors if it is smoky'

The sunset as seen through smoke from Springfield, Oregon, on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. Photo via BURST.com/NBC16

EUGENE, Ore. - The wildfire smoke in the air over Western Oregon makes for beautiful sunrises and sunsets - but lousy breathing.

The region awoke Wednesday to unhealthy air, driven by smoke from the explosive growth of the Whitewater Fire on Mount Jefferson.

Smokes from fires as far away as British Columbia has drifted south into Washington and Oregon, too.

Now the state's air quality agencies have issued an Air Quality Alert, in effect through 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"Wildfires burning in the region combined with forecasted conditions will cause air quality to reach unhealthy levels due to smoke and ozone at times through Tuesday evening," Lane Regional Air Protection Authority said in a joint statement with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Southwest Clean Air Agency.

The Air Quality Alert comes amidst a heat wave and extreme fire danger for much of Oregon.

The pollution from wildfire smoke poses specific threats.

"Pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, aggravate heart and lung diseases, and aggravate other serious health problems," the agencies cautioned. "Limit outdoor activities and keep children indoors if it is smoky. Please follow medical advice if you have a heart or lung condition."

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